Home > Funny Links/Comics > What happens in the lab, stays in the lab.

What happens in the lab, stays in the lab.

Adam Ruben wrote a book about why grad school was the best choice you could have made post-college.

Without mentioning everything that you can read about the article Adam wrote for Science magazine, these 12 somewhat universal rules from the bench are a must (but don’t forget the read the original article):

  1. No matter how rigorously obtained, results will be mistrusted if they are more than 5 years old, and the experiments will be repeated. This is doubly true if the results came from someone else’s lab.
  2. A co-worker who routinely shows pristine data must be disparaged and suspected of misconduct. A co-worker who routinely shows lousy data must be disparaged and suspected of incompetence.
  3. If a piece of equipment sits idle on a lab bench for weeks at a time and then you and a co-worker both want to use it at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, a case will be made for purchasing another one.
  4. Unlabeled bottles of reagents have a longer shelf life than labeled bottles. (“Let’s not throw this away,” reasons the grad student charged with cleaning out the fridge. “It could contain something important.” Typically, “something important” means “rampant fungus.”)
  5. Random decisions pertaining to lab protocols will become entrenched and will persist unquestioned for years. You can test this one out: If your protocol requires doing something for, say, 30 minutes, change it to 32 minutes and then visit the lab in 10 years. The person who has taken over your role in the lab will still perform that step for 32 minutes without knowing why. Unless, in the interim, someone has decided to test out the random decisions behind lab protocols.
  6. Bringing stellar results to the lab meeting will make you almost as popular as bringing cookies to the lab meeting.
  7. Grad students will think that the principal investigator (PI) never does any work. The PI will think that the grad students never do any work. The postdoctoral fellows will have children and stop doing any work. The undergraduates will use lab space to do work for other classes. Paid lab techs will do honest work, but no one will give their results any credence because they’re just paid lab techs. Every person will believe he or she does the most work.
  8. Safety protocols must be adhered to, rigidly, by everyone else. Not by you, because you’re awesome.
  9. There are nerds even within nerd-dom: Even though you all love science, you still think, “at least I’m cooler than my co-worker who won’t shut up about Settlers of Catan.”
  10. The expensive computer purchased to run the isothermal titration microcalorimeter will also, mysteriously, run Angry Birds.
  11. If you work in industry, much of your time will be spent filling out forms that don’t matter. If you work in academia, nothing you do will matter.
  12. If you interfere with someone else’s experiment, you are Satan. Even if it wasn’t your fault. Even if you apologize. Even if the experiment was about to burn down the building.

Link to original article.

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Categories: Funny Links/Comics
  1. Kasia
    June 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    It would be funny if it weren’t true!

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